No Father’s Name on the Birth Certificate: How Will It Affect My Child?

In case of unwed couples, the decision to add the father’s name to the birth certificate is a very personal one.

Sometimes, it is difficult to identify or locate the father. Other times, the relationship between the biological parents may be strained. In these situations, the mother may be unsure how including the father’s name on the birth certificate will affect her parental rights and her child.

If you are worried about the consequences of having no father’s name on a birth certificate, keep reading. In this article, you will learn:

  • What the law says about adding the father’s name to the birth certificate
  • How to include a father on the birth certificate
  • About parental rights and the pros and cons of putting the father on the birth certificate

Is It Illegal Not to Put the Father on the Birth Certificate?

Absolutely not. The father’s name is not a requirement to issue a birth certificate.

The biological father's last name does not have to be included for the vital records office to issue your baby’s certificate. Similarly, the parents do not need to be married.

Registering a child’s birth is a legal requirement. The hospital or birthing facility will be able to assist you with filing the paperwork.

Whose last name does a baby take if the parents are not married?

When parents are unmarried, the baby can take:

  • The mother’s last name
  • The father’s last name
  • A hyphenated double last name

Parents should discuss the above options and reach an agreement. In some US states, the mother has the right to choose the child’s last name without the father’s consent even when parentage is established.

Including the father on the birth certificate does not mean that the baby will automatically take the father’s last name.

Having the Father’s Name on the Birth Certificate but No Signature

When the couple is unmarried, listing the father on the birth certificate is not possible without their consent

The birth certificate does not represent evidence of paternity if the father’s name appears but there is no signature

Unmarried parents can sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP) to confirm the father’s identity and their consent to be listed as father on all relevant paperwork. The AOP is often filled out and signed at the hospital or facility where the baby is born but can also be submitted later.

Father’s Rights and Responsibilities when Parentage Is Established

Featuring on a child’s birth certificate comes with rights and responsibilities. In the United States, the father’s rights include:

  • Discussing custody and visitation and seeking them with a court order if necessary
  • Being an important part of the child’s daily life with regular contact
  • Having a say in the decisions regarding the minor’s education and religious upbringing
  • Having a say regarding adoption proceedings
  • Passing property to the child via gift or inheritance
  • Inheriting the child’s earnings and property in case of death

Once paternity is acknowledged, the father also agrees to the following parental responsibilities:

  • Supporting the child financially (usually, until they reach 18 years of age)
  • Meeting the minor’s basic needs for food, clothing, housing, medical care, and education
  • Serving the child’s emotional needs
  • Providing a safe environment for the minor and protecting them from abuse

Benefits of Having the Father’s Name on the Birth Certificate

If your baby has no father’s name on their birth certificate, access to certain social security benefits could be affected.

Also, it may not be possible for you to take legal steps to ensure that the father upholds their parental duties and meets the child’s physical and emotional needs.

Even as an adult, there are benefits to having the father’s name on one’s birth certificate, for example:

  • Claiming death benefits once the father passes away
  • Accessing family certificates of vital records
  • Accessing the father’s medical history

Ultimately, deciding whether to register a newborn with no father’s name on the birth certificate is a delicate position to be in. Remember that it is possible to have the birth certificate amended and the father added at a later date if both parents agree.

In many states, the only situation in which a minor’s birth certificate cannot be changed to include the father’s name is after the father’s death.